Couples on the brink

New Marriage Foundation research reveals the majority of couples who are unhappy when their first child is born are happy ten years later if they stay together.

Of parents who are unhappy at the time of the birth of their first child, seven in ten stay together and of these the majority (68 per cent) are happy ten years later.

Twenty seven per cent of unhappy parents who stay together end up ‘extremely happy,’ rating happiness with their relationship a top mark of seven out of seven.

With rates of family breakdown at record levels in the UK, the research suggests too many couples are giving up on their marriages before they have given them a chance to succeed.

Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation, commented: “Contrary to popular belief, staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you ever do.

“Most marriages have their unhappy moments, but apart from the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse, most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on.

“There is much a couple can do to get through a rocky patch in their relationship together. My own marriage faced such a crisis and twenty years on my wife and I have written a book, What Mums Want and What Dads Need to Know, to help other couples to avoid the unnecessary quagmire of misunderstandings we went through.

“A simple change a couple can make is to go on regular – but not routine – date nights. Previous research by Marriage Foundation showed that married couples who go on date nights every month have 14 per cent lower odds of their relationship breaking down than those who did not.

“Next month is Marriage Week, the perfect time to kick off the good habit of a regular time together dedicated to your marriage.”

Sir Paul Coleridge, former High Court Judge and founder of Marriage Foundation commented: “With family breakdown especially in the first ten years at peak levels, this is really important, myth busting research.

“This study shows that because a couple is having a tough time adjusting to the demands of children, does not mean they will not come through it and end up with a really high quality, high satisfaction relationship in the long term.

“The problem lies in the misconceptions around the nature of long-term relationships. They do not just happen. Just because each party is passionate about the other at the start does not automatically mean they will remain for ever at that high octane level without effort and without periods of unhappiness.

“Talk to anyone who has a satisfying relationship twenty years on and they will tell you that it has had to be forged by sensitive, hard work by both sides over time. And success brings a reward beyond price which the whole family benefit from, especially the children.

“Keeping your relationship working and going forward is the far and away the best and most important ingredient in your child’s development.”


Here you can download the Research Briefing Paper as a PDF and the Press Release where it is available.

Media Links

The Telegraph, 8 February 2017
By  Rozina Sabur: Staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you do, new study suggests

Mail Online, 8 February 2017
By  Steve Doughty: Marriage in trouble? Stick it out, you WILL be happy

The Times, 8 February 2017
By Richard Ford: For better, for worse . . . staying together can ease marital blues

The Telegraph, 8 February 2017
By Anna Maxted: It takes a while, but marriage is worth all the trouble and strife

Daily Mail, 8 February 2017
By Sarah Vine: Adversity can make marriage stronger – as I know

Grazia Daily, 8 February 2017
By Elizabeth Bennett: Study Finds Staying In An Unhappy Marriage Could Be Good For Your Relationship

Mail Online, 11 February 2017
By Steve Doughty: Divorce backlash – Do couples who watched their parents split up try harder to make their own marriages last?

The Guardian, 12 February 2017
By Andrew Anthony: Grit your teeth and struggle through. Is this the key to happy relationships?

Metro, 25 February 2017
By Rosy Edwards: Can marriage save a relationship? Why couples are putting a ring on it instead of breaking up

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